Electricity for Kids - Lightbulb

Electricity for kids explains electricity in an easy to understand manner. Learn more about electricity, electrical circuits, conductors and insulators and more in this guide.

What is electricity?

Electricity is a form of energy that is used to produce other energy like heat, light, and sound in electrical equipment. It is used in many ways in our lives. For example, the lights in our home are powered by electricity, and so is the computer you may be using to read this page. Other equipment that use electricity are radios, ovens, refrigerators, televisions, and so on.

Electricity travels in a path called the electric circuit.

Easy and fun way to learn about electricity

Snap Circuits SC-300
Amazon Price: $64.99 $38.99 Buy Now
(price as of Jun 10, 2013)
This easy to use kit comes with more than 60 components that lets you build 305 different circuits. Components only have to be snapped together in a grid to build amazing projects such as a radio, doorbell, burglar alarm and many more.

Where does electricity come from?

Electricity is generated in power stations by:

  • the burning of fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and natural gas
  • windmills that make use of the power of the wind
  • hydroelectric power plants that make use of running water
  • nuclear power plants that make use of large amounts of heat

Watch the video below to see how a power plant works

How power plants generate electricity

How to make a simple electrical circuit

You can make a simple electrical circuit with batteries, light bulbs, wires and a switch (optional).

Batteries in an electrical circuit

The batteries act as a source of energy. When connected properly with the wires and light bulbs, electricity flows from the battery into the light bulb through the wires and lights up the bulbs.

Like a magnet, a battery has two poles. However instead of a north and south pole, batteries have a positive and a negative pole.

When the poles of the battery are connected in a circuit and the circuit is closed, electricity flows from the negative pole of the battery to the positive pole.

Light bulbs in an electrical circuit

A lightbulb made up of many parts that help it to produce light when it is connected to a closed circuit.

Parts of a lightbulb include:

  • Filament: a thin, coiled wire that heats up and produces light when electricity passes through it
  • Metal casing and metal tip: connects to the other parts of the circuit
  • Wire in the light bulb: connects the filament to the metal casing and metal tip
  • Glass bulb: protects the filament from damage

Wires in an electrical circuit

The wires in an electrical circuit have to be made from material called conductors of electricity that will allow electricity to flow through. Copper is a conductor commonly used to make wires.

Wires also have a to have a layer of material on the outside that prevents electricity from leaking from the circuit (and protects you from an electric shock). The material that prevents electricity from flowing through or leaking is called an insulator of electricity. In wires, this is usually plastic or rubber.

Switches in an electrical circuit

An electrical circuit may contain one or more switches that open or closes the circuit. When a switch is closed, the circuit is complete and electricity can flow through it. When a switch is open, the electric circuit breaks and electricity cannot flow through it.

How to connect a simple electrical circuit

The parts of an electrical circuit mentioned above have to be connected properly in order for electricity to flow through it and the bulb to light up.

  • Wires have to be connected to the negative and positive pole of a battery
  • The metal casing and metal tip of a light bulb has to be connected to different poles of the battery using the wires.
  • The switch has to be closed

If any part of the electrical circuit is not connected properly, the bulb will not light up.

How do you make a light bulb brighter?

You can make a light bulb brighter by:

  • Increasing the number of batteries used in a circuit
  • Arranging the batteries in a series instead of in parallel
  • Using fewer light bulbs in a circuit
  • Arranging the lightbulbs in parallel instead of series

Conductors and insulators of electricity

Conductors of electricity

Like we said earlier, a conductor of electricity is something which allows electricity to flow through it. Most conductors of electricity are made from metals such as copper, gold, and silver. However, copper is more frequently used as other metals are more expensive.

You can also conduct electricity with some liquids such as a salt solution or even lemon juice. Watch the video below for how you can build a circuit using lemons!

Using a lemon as a battery in an electrical circuit

Insulators of electricity

Insulators of electricity are materials that do not allow electricity to flow through them. Most insulators are made out of non-metals such as plastic and rubber. Other insulating materials are glass, wood, clay, paper, and air. Insulators are useful for preventing electricity from leaking and protecting us from electric shock.

Electricity and safety

Did you know that electricity can be dangerous if not properly used? Handling electricity improperly can start fires and cause electric shocks. Here are some ways to ensure that you use use electricity safely at home:

  • Dry your hands before using any electrical equipment. It is dangerous to use electrical equipment with wet hands.
  • Electrical equipment should also be kept away from water
  • Make sure the wires in your electrical equipment are covered properly in their insulating material and the wires are not exposed.
  • Do not plug too many plugs into the same electrical socket. It can cause overheating and start fires

Electricity for kids in a fun and safe way

ScienceWiz / Electricity Kit
Amazon Price: $19.99 $13.95 Buy Now
(price as of Jun 10, 2013)
This science kit lets you learn about electricity in a safe and fun manner. Build different circuits that not only lights up a bulb but also spins a pinwheel, sound a buzzer, send coded messages and so on. This kit comes with wires and other electrical circuit parts you need to build your circuits as well as a 40-page activity book with detailed instructions. Batteries sold separately.